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Reviews by Leah A. Zeldes

Fishing with a Worm

by Bliss Perry

A paean to fishing with live bait, which the author tries to justify over the more skilled and prestigious art of fly fishing, as exemplified by this practical advice:

“If you find yourself camping by an unknown brook, and are deputed to catch the necessary trout for breakfast, it is wiser to choose the surest bait. The crackle of the fish in the frying-pan will atone for any theoretical defect in your method.”

Reviewed on 2016.07.17

A Lost Leader

by E. Phillips Oppenheim

In this 1909 romance about English politics, a man named Mannering is called from his retired life in the country to return to politics as a conservative leader. He resists, and members of his party bring pressure to bear in unscrupulous ways, among them a beguiling duchess in incognito and a secret out of his past, the single less than honorable act of his life. Yet once in office, Mannering doesn't toe the party line, in part because his eyes become opened to the plight of the working class.

Mannering is a little too good to be true, but much of the political chicanery seems realistic. As such, it's depressing reading in this election year. This is well written, but I prefer Oppenheim's action novels.

Reviewed on 2016.07.17

A Little Wizard

by Stanley J. Weyman

A short historical novel set during the 17th-century English Civil War. A small boy whose family has sided with the Cavaliers against the Roundheads becomes an almost unwitting pawn in the skirmish, frightening his Puritan captors into believing him a witch. Neither the action nor the characterizations are very exciting, but it may be of interest to students of the period.

Reviewed on 2016.05.18


by Jane Austen

Emma is probably the most controversial of all Jane Austen's books. Critics and scholars laud it, while the reading public and schoolteachers stick to Austen's earlier books.

For all that Austen famously limits the reader to the viewpoint of her protagonist, and even as a coming-of-age story, "Emma" is extremely predictable, and Emma Woodhouse is such a conceited young woman, full of her own consequence, for most of the book that it becomes difficult to care that she gets over herself, somewhat, later on. Austen might have made a joke of Emma's snobbery and meddling, but she simultaneously invites us to sympathize with her.

While Austen's powers of subtle irony and gentle wit are at their height in this novel, their objects — the mildly censorious Mr. Knightly, hardly a romantic ideal; his ill-tempered, introverted younger brother; the kindly, prosy Miss Bates; the valetudinarian Mr. Woodhouse — mostly seem undeserving of her skill. Only in the upstart Mrs. Upton do we get a humorous character at which Austen deservedly pokes her sharpened pen.

Reviewed on 2016.05.18

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Author of the Day

Jewel E. Ann
Jewel is a free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor. When she's not saving the planet one tree at a time, you can find her role modeling questionable behavior to her three boys, binge-watching Netflix with her husband, and writing mind-bending romance. As our Author of the Day, Jewel tells us all about her latest romance novel, Scarlet Stone.
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